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Customer Review

on June 2, 2004
My mother wanted something more compact (and "cute") so I sprung for a S410 for her. For my step-dad, who has Parkinson's, the A75 has turned out to be PERFECT.
The human engineering on small cameras is a feature people often overlook. I own a large Sony digicam, but I can't handle any of their compacts or their V1 without having to concentrate on where my large-ish fingers are resting. Another thing people sometimes fail to consider is how SECURE the camera is in your hands. A child could grab the S410 from my hands, but no one on Earth could get the A75 loose. My parents are in France with their cameras now and I'm sure that no jarring in a museum or crowded street will dislodge the A75 from my step-dad's weak hands.
One reason for the nice grip is because that's where the four AA batteries go. For some people (me included), this seemed like a weakness of the camera versus the custome Li-ion batteries of the competition. However, once you spring about $25 for four 1850 mAH (or stonger) rechargable batteries, you will find yourself getting double or more the bttery life of a S410 (which with it's 850 mAH battery does surprisingly well). The well-respected dpreview website has tested the A75's predecessor (the A70) in comparison with a slew of other small-format digicams and found it to have the best battery life by a wide margin. WARNING: the AAs that come with the camera only lasted one day of intermittent "training" use...so don't be disappointed.
The A75 takes great pictures. We set up a scene with lots of detail to compare all possible size and resolution settings ("L", "M1" which is 1600x1200, "M2" which is 1024x780, and "S" which is 640x480 (for e-mails)) and took a shot at each of those sizes with the three resolution settings ("Superfine", "Fine", and "Normal"). We printed them at 6"x4" at a local Kodak digital picture kiosk (recently deemed better and cheaper than Fuji's by a consumer group...Consumer Reports IIRC) and compared them with a magnifying glass. There were no easily discernable differences in quality until we got to the M1/Normal setting. Even then it was just a tiny difference in some detail in the pine needles of a distant tree. In other words, if you're starved for storage card space, don't panic -- you should be able to get fantastic prints with this camera even with the lower settings. (Another indication that there's rarely a reason to go beyong 3.2-4.0 megapixels in a pocket cam -- don't waste your money on ANY compact 5.0 cam, Canon or otherwise (ex. S500 -- forget it!).
The A75 uses the ubiquitous Compact Flash Type I cards. That's not as important as it used to be (all cards, SD included, are rapidly getting cheaper). However, you can get these anywhere for cheap in a pinch, and Amazon has GREAT deals on CF cards. I got each of my parents a SanDisk 512 card for ~80 each -- that was six weeks ago and they've dropped since. My step-dad's A75 on max size/max-resolution ("L"/"Superfine") will take just over 300 pictures on that card! (My mom's S410 will handle a bit less -- 280 IIRC).
The picture quality on auto is great, the "panorama" feature is addicting as heck (I'm looking forward to their France panoramas -- a feature offered on the A75 and the S410).
The included software is fine -- nothing special, but all you need, and it worked on my parent's old PIII running Microsoft Windows 98 (not even "SE"!). If you have a newer computer, you will have a hard time beating the Adobe Elements/Album combo that Amazon offers -- well-worth it!
We originally considered paying list price at Be$t Buy in order to get an extended warranty, but we realized that if they go bad in France it won't help, so Amazon saved me a bundle. THERE IS NO BETTER PLACE AFAIC TO BUY DIGI-CAMS AT THIS LEVEL THAN AMAZON. MEMORY CARDS, TOO.
Me, I'm waiting to see how Sony's new W1 looks (I like the huge movie resoultion it offers, perhaps Canon's only weak area compared to the compettion). If the Sony doesn't do anything for me, then I'll probably go with an A75 for myself -- the S410 is an awesome little cam, but it's a bit uncomfortable in my hands and the screen is only 1.5" which is another weakness compared to the competition. If they had a 1.8" LCD on the S410 I'd go with it so I could have a great (but not as versatile) cam I could keep in my pocket -- heavy though it is.
I hope this helped. The world of digicams is tough, and changing fast. With that said, I don't think you can go wrong with the A75. The S410 is also great (weaknesses noted) but you can get something similar from the competion for $100 less (alhtough you'll sacrifice a bit in picture quality).
Good luck! (And search Amazon on weekends for CF deals -- go with a 512!!)
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